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Yellow Sheep River keeps on Sputniking along
March 21, 2006 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Sputnik for the digital g-g-g-generation? No, thats probably hyperbole. But despite yankee plans for a $100 Laptop for Every Kid, those dang Chinese have gone ahead and created a €123 (that's Euros, son) Personal Computer, the YSR-639.

As a perfect nightmare for Gates, Jobs and Barrett all it runs a version of linux (ok, that was probably everybody's guess) on a processor I had never heard of before: the Godson CPU. The company espouses an unusual amount of populist rhetoric, the kind that I thought had been eliminated in now-capitalist China, claiming this a computer for all. Basically, they aim to end the Digital Divide--in China, anyway. Check out the video at CEBITvideo.com (Google Video. [VIA]
posted by illovich (64 comments total)

 
I forgot to mention, a possible downside is that it uses a TV as it's monitor... =(

But still, €123 (that's $149.69 as I post this) is pretty good for a box the size of a mini.
posted by illovich at 7:49 AM on March 21, 2006


Oh HO! Lookout AMD and Intel, the 500mhz (yes, that's mega-hertz, folks) GODSON II is here!

And it runs teh Lunix! Porblem Solved.

So, it's a pIII 500 for E 123? I could get better price/performance from a pawnshop pc.

Pass. But I'll still snatch up a $100 laptop...
posted by stenseng at 7:50 AM on March 21, 2006


My guess is that this is not the case in China however, where the desktop battle is not really won. It's great for someone who has access to pawnshops that sell fancy computers, but if you look closer, you'll see that the version of linux that this computer is running seems to be an initiative of the Chinese government.

I would imagine that that would make Gates and Barett nervous. Jobs is only worried about their iPod clone, of course.
posted by illovich at 7:56 AM on March 21, 2006


This will be great, when I can actually order one of these systems to use as an experimental / embedded-systems toy.
posted by mrbill at 7:57 AM on March 21, 2006


Hmm, they claim the Godson is equivalent to a P3 at 500Mhz. That's perfectly adequate for normal use. I think of P3/1Ghz as being about the ideal speed, but 500Mhz really isn't bad. If it really does perform at that level, is reasonably bug-free, and is as reliable as the American CPUs, they could have a real winner.

An _awful_ lot of the current race to multicore chips is pretty silly from the standpoint of the end-user. A dual-cpu system adds a nice amount of responsiveness, but there's not much use for anything past two cores. If you were a really flagrant power-user, maybe four cores... but beyond that, I just can't see it doing a darn bit of good.

It makes me wonder if a low-cost CPU maker like China couldn't come in with chips like these for, say, $20, and take a big, big chunk of market share. It'll need to be a little faster than 500Mhz, but they're getting pretty close now.
posted by Malor at 7:58 AM on March 21, 2006


Sure. I'd use one for an mp3 box, or a basic internet station I suppose. Sorry for the morning snark...
posted by stenseng at 8:04 AM on March 21, 2006


Using a TV as a monitor isn't a "downside". TVs are pretty ubiquitous. If you're building the cheapest PC possible, it makes sense to use those available TVs as (low-res) monitors.
posted by the jam at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2006


It's easy to make a $123 computer when you don't have to include a display or decent I/O devices.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2006


stenseng: Are you retarded?
posted by delmoi at 8:10 AM on March 21, 2006


First off, what the hell is a municator?

The box is kind of cool. It probably will do OK outside the US. Inside the US, I'm pulling machines as fast as 1100mhz from the trash.
posted by chibikeandy at 8:13 AM on March 21, 2006


It's easy to make a $123 computer when you...use child/slave labor.
posted by sluglicker at 8:15 AM on March 21, 2006


The official Chinese government version of Linux is actually not bad; its main purpose is to prevent malicious (presumably American) code from becoming ubiquitous in China. This translates into a highly-secured, if unremarkable, operating system.
posted by solipse at 8:20 AM on March 21, 2006


What surprising about this is how expensive it is, not how cheap it is.
posted by A189Nut at 8:23 AM on March 21, 2006


I'd take one for $100 USD, just to use as a media box/browser for a TV.

But I'll second the vote for recycling trashed PCs, but with the acknowledgement that they only exist because the Microsoft Windows/IE + Spyware + Viruses + McAfee/Symantec + Consumer dis-education juggernaut makes them possible.
posted by loquacious at 8:25 AM on March 21, 2006


Yeah, the specs are totally sub-par, but it supports WiFi, USB 2.0, and SVGA. Small CRT's cost almost nothing, so you could outfit a classroom with web access, word processing, and printing for a couple grand.
posted by mkultra at 8:26 AM on March 21, 2006


Why are people hung up on the "uses a TV for a monitor" thing? Look at the specs, it's got a VGA out in addition to the SVideo out.
posted by jtron at 8:26 AM on March 21, 2006


Godson II may perform equivalently to a Pentium III at 500Mhz, but it's not x86 compatible. It's MIPS64.

China looks as if it's doing it's best to build a nascent domestic semiconductor industry, and us parts that they do not need to liscence as a result. This report is somewhat dated... but provides some additional information about this domestic industry. This page has a nice shot of Godson II on a mainboard.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:26 AM on March 21, 2006


Heh. I grew up using TVs as monitors for computers far slower than the P# (Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga) - They're pretty dated now, but you could do an awful lot with them.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on March 21, 2006


"stenseng: Are you retarded?"

Um. Not to my knowledge, no. What brought that on?
posted by stenseng at 8:28 AM on March 21, 2006


The biggest task for this company, I imagine, is to convince potential Chinese customers to use their (free) software instead of just an easily-obtained (nearly free) pirated copy of Windows and any apps they want.

The computer itself is cool enough - the CPU is relatively slow, but the rest of it is modern and compact. Sure you can get second-hand machines that are the same CPU speed, but will they be that little? And will they have 4 USB ports? I doubt it - they will more likely have PS2, parallel, and DB9 serial: not so great for modern peripherals.
posted by dammitjim at 8:29 AM on March 21, 2006


Malor: The VIA EDEN is a modern-but-slow x86 compatible processor. One document shows that it comes in speed grades from 300MHz (4.5*66) to 1000MHz (5*200).

To expand on what Blue Beetle said;
You can get a VIA-based (C3, not Eden) motherboard+CPU for $60; add a power supply ($15), case ($15), RAM (256MB; $20), and FLASH (1GB; $30). Software's free. That's only $140, and at single-unit pricing. Add keyboard ($5), mouse ($5), and FLASH/ATA interface, and order 10000 of them. I have to believe you'd get down to $120 or even $100.
posted by jepler at 8:30 AM on March 21, 2006


Of course, at those speeds, the kids won't be able to gold farm in Silithus as effectively.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:31 AM on March 21, 2006


The company espouses an unusual amount of populist rhetoric, the kind that I thought had been eliminated in now-capitalist China, claiming this a computer for all.

Actually, the rhetoric is largely unchanged. It's the facts behind the rhetoric that are different.
posted by Slothrup at 8:32 AM on March 21, 2006


chibikeandy said: ...what the hell is a municator?

Think of it as "comMunicator", but ignore any association with "communist"...
posted by cenoxo at 8:41 AM on March 21, 2006


sluglicker:It's easy to make a $123 computer when you...use child/slave labor.

C'mon. Won't someone think of the children?
posted by sluglicker at 8:45 AM on March 21, 2006


More pictures of Godson II silicon and a laptop are here and here.

These links may be considered NSFW...There are some weird flash adverts embedded within the page.

Another blast from the bast... Elbrus.... with the E2K. The Itanium killer.

Someone forgot to tell our russian friends that Itanium is already DOA.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:46 AM on March 21, 2006


Artw, I too cut my teeth with a Commodore64... many, many years ago.

MOS 6502 assesmbler was fun.

Good times... good times.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:52 AM on March 21, 2006


How is the OS it runs a "perfect nightmare?"

It's hardware, it'll run Windows Third World Edition (or whatever the actual brand name is) or the inevitable x86 OSX "Ferret" Emerging iPod User Release.

As for the users who never install anything else, their money doesn't ever get to Steve or Bill anyway.
posted by abulafa at 8:53 AM on March 21, 2006


Funny, the computer they're showing off wouldn't be powerful enough to show the video that they made to show it off in.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:54 AM on March 21, 2006


Godson II may perform equivalently to a Pentium III at 500Mhz, but it's not x86 compatible. It's MIPS64.

Interesting. If that's the case, how is Skype running on it? I wonder if the system in the video is a mockup, or if they have a recompiled version of Skype...
posted by Olli at 8:55 AM on March 21, 2006


abulafa: but it won't run Windows. The processor is not x86-compatible. The processor will only run whatever is compiled for it, and I doubt Microsoft will be compiling a version of Windows for these guys - not with all the "Wintel Bad!" marketing that they're doing. The machine wouldn't run Vista anyway... way too slow.

The reason it may be a nightmare for Microsoft is that it may be a viable alternative to Windows for hundreds of millions of Chinese people. And Chinese developers.
posted by dammitjim at 9:01 AM on March 21, 2006


It's hardware, it'll run Windows Third World Edition (or whatever the actual brand name is) or the inevitable x86 OSX "Ferret" Emerging iPod User Release.

No, that's incorrect. The Godson chip is not x86 compatible. If these computers became ubiquitous in China or elsewhere, Micorosft would have to develop a version of Windows to run on this hardware platform.

The OS is not a perfect nightmare, it's the OS/hardware combo that's a nightmare since it totally locks out the so-called wintel computing platform monopoly.
posted by illovich at 9:03 AM on March 21, 2006


Think of it as "comMunicator", but ignore any association with "communist"...

I guess it is either that or they are trying to target the German market at the same time: the Munichator?

TRY NOW!
posted by chibikeandy at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2006


or the inevitable x86 OSX "Ferret" Emerging iPod User Release

On further reflection, it would be funny if someone ported Darwin to this machine. Apple can still win China!
posted by illovich at 9:06 AM on March 21, 2006


Well...since the Mandarin for "godson" is jiaozi which is a homophone for the Mandarin for "dumpling" and with the recent demise of Don Knotts who starred in The Apple Dumpling Gang, I'm calling this a direct challenge to the Mac mini in the lucrative Chinese market.
posted by the sobsister at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2006


This doesnt at all effect barrett's goals. The 100 dollar laptop will:

1. Come with a display. This doesn't.

2. Not relay on AC power. It has a handcrank when needed. This box needs AC power when on.

3. Is mobile. This isn't.

4. Have a DVD drive. This doesn't.

5. Have a wifi adapter. This doesn't.

Not exactly an olpc killer. This is just a headless mini box made as cheaply as possible.
posted by skallas at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2006


My mistake, I mixed Barret's name up with Negroponte's.
posted by skallas at 9:29 AM on March 21, 2006


Not exactly an olpc killer. This is just a headless mini box made as cheaply as possible.

I agree. I think that this machine is designed to fill in the digital divide, but only in China-- my guess it they're assuming some things, obviously that the end user has electricity and a tv already.

My guess is that that is more true in China than in the places the olpc is meant to have a big impact.
posted by illovich at 9:32 AM on March 21, 2006


Not exactly an olpc killer. This is just a headless mini box made as cheaply as possible.

I agree. I think that this machine is designed to fill in the digital divide, but only in China-- my guess it they're assuming some things, obviously that the end user has electricity and a tv already.

My guess is that that is more true in China than in the places the olpc is meant to have a big impact.
posted by illovich at 9:32 AM on March 21, 2006


Um. Not to my knowledge, no. What brought that on?

Your first comment in this thread. 500mhz is not that slow, While the p4 clock can get pretty high, CPUs these days run 1.8 - 2.0 ghz for other archetectures which are faster. a 2.0 ghz AMD sells for twice the price of the entire machine.

A 4x speed diffrence isn't all that much.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on March 21, 2006


/me will learn to read specs.

I agree with skallas' remarks, this seems to be even less of a wintel challenger. The olpc targets those on the wrong side of the divide by not making assumptions about power and so forth. (I didn't know it came with a dvd drive...)

This doesn't target the truly poor or rural exactly. Unless illovich is correct and power + TVs (with S-Video in) are much more ubiquitous among the Chinese poor or rural than elsewhere.
posted by abulafa at 9:41 AM on March 21, 2006


You can get a VIA-based (C3, not Eden) motherboard+CPU for $60; add a power supply ($15), case ($15), RAM (256MB; $20), and FLASH (1GB; $30). Software's free. That's only $140, and at single-unit pricing.

Err, you probably want a case to put that in. Building a mini-itx system you'll end up spending 50% of your budget on a case. Of course, you can use an old, junk case if you want.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 AM on March 21, 2006


Oops. Agreeing with skallas and this not being a wintel challenger are separate assertions.

Sorry skallas.
posted by abulafa at 9:42 AM on March 21, 2006


Err, you probably want a case to put that in. Building a mini-itx system you'll end up spending 50% of your budget on a case. Of course, you can use an old, junk case if you want.

Or just use an old toaster oven.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:21 AM on March 21, 2006


"the version of linux that this computer is running seems to be an initiative of the Chinese government"

Red hat?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:23 AM on March 21, 2006


You are the government of a poor, corrupt, and somewhat authoritarian nation. Do you buy the computer that truly empowers your people and rides a wave of revolutionary change? Or do you buy the computer designed to enforce centralized, governmental control of everything?
posted by Ptrin at 10:26 AM on March 21, 2006


... and order 10000 of them. I have to believe you'd get down to $120 or even $100.

... and what's your labor markup for that? Or, if you're assuming free labor: What's your opportunity cost?

space_coyote: Funny, the computer they're showing off wouldn't be powerful enough to show the video that they made to show it off in.

Hmm....how ya figger that? I mean, people show video on 150MHz devices all the time. And if you don't want to buy that, riddle me this: What's the clock speed on the Verizon phone that the guy in the next subway seat is using to stream that Shakira video? Or, for that matter, on the Video iPod that the guy on the other side is using to look at last night's episode of Lost?

People feel a need to dump on anything new, especially when somebody else thinks it's cool. I think it's cool, and if I could get my hands on one I'd probably order it as a media center for the living room. Where, I'm sad to say that I'm compelled (by the lack of imagination being displayed on this thread) to point out, a salvaged, old PC would be pretty unsuitable because the fucking fan noise would drive me nuts when I was trying to listen to quiet music or watch movies. Not to mention that I'd have a big mofo ugly beige box in my living room.
posted by lodurr at 10:32 AM on March 21, 2006


Ptrin, I think I see your point, but: Using Open Source software is not really a revolutionary act; and investing in or building on open source does not inherently promote freedom and democracy. Viz IBM's fantastic ROI for their F/OSS investments over the past eight or nine years. By investing what is to them a very small amount of money, they've come to have a really disproportionate influence over F/OSS. Same is coming to be true of Google. Same could be true of Apple if they'd get their heads out of their asses.

... or maybe that was your point?
posted by lodurr at 10:36 AM on March 21, 2006


>Do you buy the computer that truly empowers your people and rides a wave of revolutionary change?

I don't think that's too fair. Europe and South America are pushing Linux and doing their best to keep Microsoft at bay for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with bad government, but with good government.

1. Microsoft is an US entity and as such may have US intelligence backdoors in certain builds or may share yet discovered security holes with the US to spy on others.

2. Microsoft is actually very expensive software for what it does. Many governments don't want to pay licensing costs unless they have to.

3. Many of these governments have strong CS/IT/Manufacturing centers and wonder why they can't make their own computer for economic reasons or just national pride.

4. There is also concern over Microsoft formats which may not be compatible with anything else. Having all your government's data locked into MS's formats is a real concern. This is why you see so many government documents using published standards like PDF or HTML.

China is of course asking itself why it has to rely on MS and Intel when it has the brainpower and manufacturing power to do the same. This was why the Dragon chip was created, now renamed Godson, now in stage II.

As far as liberating and empowering software goes. Well, I'm sure the OSS advocates have a lot to say on how OSS is a lot more liberating than the closed equivalants.
posted by skallas at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2006


>What's the clock speed on the Verizon phone that the guy in the next subway seat

Quick comment on how mhz is meaningless. A specific purpose chip to play video (or draw graphics, or process sound, etc) will be much more efficeint than a general purpose CPU. Apples and Oranges.

To compare CPUs you can benchmark them for various common tasks and conclude who is better than who. Of course, a high-end system that does nothing but 2D office and web browsing is a serious waste of resources. I wouldnt be suprised if the Godsend II or III would perform on a level equal (to a human observer) with high end P4s for most tasks outside of games, video editing, etc.
posted by skallas at 10:44 AM on March 21, 2006


You are the government of a poor, corrupt, and somewhat authoritarian nation. Do you buy the computer that truly empowers your people and rides a wave of revolutionary change? Or do you buy the computer designed to enforce centralized, governmental control of everything?

Ironically, the Chinese system (made by a private company) running an unrestricted version of Linux is much less restrictive and more empowering then the olpc designed by American companies and universities. The olpc will be locked down and you won't be able to hack it. The Chinese system will run Linux and you can do whatever you want to do with it.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on March 21, 2006


Of course, a 500mhz CPU is perfectly fine for playing video, so the debate is rather pointless.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2006


...mhz is meaningless.

Couldn't agree more. It was an ill-advised shorthand for "you haven't really thought through this sweeping dismissal that you're making."

As for why the Chinese would want to home-grow rather than use foreign technology, I think they may have something more elemental in mind: They want to teach themselves how to do these things, so they can be the originators of technology, rather than re-manufacturers of someone else's. Many Chinese think of themselves as citizens of the oldest and greatest nation on earth, and I'm sure it rankles many of them to buy technology developed elsewhere.
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2006


Okay, so enough about the hardware. Where's all the information about the software that this system uses? We know that it's linux of some flavor or another, and that it has Firefox, OpenOffice, Gaim, etc. But what about that WebTV-style "desktop" interface? I can't seem to find much detail about the system software or the windowing experience.
posted by dammitjim at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2006


I noticed with digital cameras that once the prices started to drop, all the manufacturers (simultaneously and without collusion) upped the features and the prices.

I see the same thing happening now with jump drives; when the prices fell, they all upped the storage capacity. Sure, you're getting more for your money, but the prices are staying the same: high.

I'm sure western computer manufacturers could make a very inexpensive workhorse computer that would handle most tasks just fine- but they won't. They're going to feature faster processors and bigger hard drives, whether you need them or not. Our prices are going to stay about the same.
posted by Jatayu das at 11:12 AM on March 21, 2006


Just to answer my own question, this is from the yellowsheepriver.org site:
    The characteristics of the Thinix OS 1. User-friendly interface: the interface is based on the traditional Chinese land system in which the users can make use of either the mouse or the keyboard to control the computers. 2. In accordance with the requirements which are prescribed by the Chinese Information Center, the Thinix OS can be smoothly working on the Godson CPUs. 3. Compatible to both Linux and Windows operation systems. 4. Embedded with HI-Font device. Users can make use of the device to develop their own fonts. 5. Maximize the Chinese OS. Support Chinese input. 6. Functional applications, like Surfing the Internet, email, movie, word-processing and Internet phone. 7. Installed with e-learning software.
I don't know about being compatible with Windows. That seems like a stretch. Compatible with some file formats used by Windows apps, maybe. And the thing about making your own fonts: have fun with that. Also, Thinix used to be called "Miss Dragon OS".
posted by dammitjim at 11:33 AM on March 21, 2006


Much less impressive than a $100 laptop; given similar economies of scale and (non-existant) profit margin, it'd be trivial to build an x86 system with similar specs at the same cost. I suppose the scope and ambition of this enterprise is commendable, however.

Trivia: Windows can run on MIPS hardware, sort of - there was an NT port, and it's one of the platforms supported by WinCE
posted by unmake at 12:54 PM on March 21, 2006


The last Microsoft OS to run on multiple platforms was WindowsNT 4.0. It ran on MIPS32/64, DEC ALPHA (Long may you run... I've always lusted for one. May Capalles and Fiorina burn in the darkest pits of Hades.), IBM PowerPC, and of course.... x86 compatible processors.

CE might run on these CPU's... but I think that Nationalism may be trumping technology.

Things could get interesting.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2006


I wouldn't mind one of these, for the inevitable day my XBMC rig goes tits-up. Sure, I could put together a cheap linux box for the job, but not this small at this price.
posted by pompomtom at 6:23 PM on March 21, 2006


Just to clarify: I think the olpc is a pipe dream. It is clearly envisioned by its creators as a device for change, and yet it is supposed to be bought by governments that value stability over all else. On the other hand, this Chinese computer is (in seemingly quintessential Chinese fashion) a device for harmony and control. It is a machine cheap enough for every local beaurocrat and every paramilitary brigade. Just the ticket for keeping HQ up-to-date on dissident movements and who hasn't paid their bribes this month. From an export standpoint, this isn't part of a humanitarian package -- it is part of an arms deal.
posted by Ptrin at 7:29 PM on March 21, 2006


Obviously not for the average American consumer who might throw away $100 worth of fast food in a week. But for those not able to waste tons of money on tech toys they don't really need this could be a great development - if it actually works and they can actually buy it.

I don't really see how this is a threat to any American company. Does any pc manufacturer market a product that the people who this product targets could actually afford?
posted by cmacleod at 9:53 PM on March 21, 2006


This sounds like a very good initiative. For a start, this machine seems to be specifically tailored for the market that will use it.

At the moment, I remain to be convinced by the $100 laptop. It is working on a number of assumptions that I don't think have been thought through.

First off, the device is for children. It will only be available for large scale government purchase for delivery to schools. What about their parents? What about everybody else?

It also assumes that the device will actually be bought by governments. Who's to say they will? There are other issues that in the short term may seem more pressing (for example, food security).

I've been looking into digital divide issues in depth recently, as I'm putting together a proposal to provide basic computing and internet training for rural school children in Kenya.

A good resource for information about various initiatives concerning the 'digital devide' is bridges.org. If you have the time, their (fairly) recent report on open source Vs proprietary software in an African context is available on their site (hmm, it was yesterday, they've undergone a huge redesign in the last 8hrs). The executive summary is here though, but the detailed report is very very interesting. I'll probably FPP it when it becomes available again.

Personally. I think the Ndiyo initiative (linked here in MeFi not too long ago) is more inclusive and more realistic initiative in the short - medium term.
posted by davehat at 10:25 PM on March 21, 2006


I don't see anything wrong with 500mhz. The server in the corner of my office is a 500mhz machine, and it does its job just fine. It may not be fast enough to be useful as a Windows-based gaming platform, but with Linux running on it there's no reason it can't remain a useful chunk of hardware.

Try this: Pick up any piece of computer hardware you have nearby. Look at where it was manufactured. Odds are it was not in the US. Just because the US-based companies design and sell the hardware doesn't mean that the people who put it together weren't paying attention.

I imagine that Toyota, Honda, etc. had a similar reaction when they first started selling cars in the US: Look how small, that cheapo Japanese steel, you might as well buy a nice Chevy because it has a more powerful engine... and then the gas shortage hit in the 70's, and people figured out you don't need an 8-cylinder engine to go for groceries once a week.

Remember that this is only the first generation Chinese-built and designed system. They aren't going to say "well, we did it" and stop improving the machine. If I were one of the big US-based computer firms I would be paying very, very close attention to this.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:22 AM on March 22, 2006


dammitjim writes "Sure you can get second-hand machines that are the same CPU speed, but will they be that little? And will they have 4 USB ports? I doubt it - they will more likely have PS2, parallel, and DB9 serial: not so great for modern peripherals."

Besides which you're unlikely to be able to procure 10 million machines all running the same hardware at pawn shops and by dumpster diving.

illovich writes "The Godson chip is not x86 compatible. If these computers became ubiquitous in China or elsewhere, Micorosft would have to develop a version of Windows to run on this hardware platform."

NT4's HAL allowed running on MIPS64. If Microsoft was motivated they could port windows to MIPS. I doubt it is in there best interest though.

jepler writes "To expand on what Blue Beetle said;
"You can get a VIA-based (C3, not Eden) motherboard+CPU for $60; add a power supply ($15), case ($15), RAM (256MB; $20), and FLASH (1GB; $30). Software's free. That's only $140, and at single-unit pricing. Add keyboard ($5), mouse ($5), and FLASH/ATA interface, and order 10000 of them. I have to believe you'd get down to $120 or even $100."


Sure a hobbiest can hack something together at this price point, if you don't have to deal with supply issues, warranty, labour (assembly and distribution), support and all the other things that makes the cost of things greater than the sum cost of it's parts. Then you have to get your device UL and CE listed. This is an amazing price point for mass produced general computer of this caliber.

Jatayu das writes "I'm sure western computer manufacturers could make a very inexpensive workhorse computer that would handle most tasks just fine- but they won't. They're going to feature faster processors and bigger hard drives, whether you need them or not. Our prices are going to stay about the same."

There is only so much fab capability, Intel/IBM/AMD are limited by the number of different chips they can make at any one time. If you had the choice of a chip making $10 each and one making $100 each and the $100 chip was in greater demand what would you build?
posted by Mitheral at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2006


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